Movie Chat

FranFoCo

The Pogfather (1995/ Director- Francis Ford Coppola. Criterion Collection/$34.99)

This never seen failure has been given the usual red carpet treatment by the folks at Criterion.
It was 1994 and Coppola was having trouble making the movie “Jack” (1996). It was the heartfelt story of a child with an aging disease, played by Robin Williams. Coppola rightly thought that it was ridiculous and his enthusiasm waned. While on a break from the movie he noticed the Pog fad that was sweeping the nation (Pog was a brief childhood game craze that involved flipping round discs called “pogs”) and he got an idea. Coppola’s wanted to make a quick, cheap movie to clear his mind from “Jack” and perhaps go back to it with a clean slate. He was inspired by Hitchcock’s “Psycho” which was quickly made, inexpensive and a huge hit. Unfortunately he wanted to make a movie about Pogs.  To his thinking it was an “of the minute” movie and could be made quickly enough to still capitalize on pog fever. He wanted to shoot it in an art school-ish guerilla style, but he had no story. According to the book “Last Movies & Heavens Gates: Great Directorial Failures (by Von Hayes, 2002, Press Gang Press) Coppola or as he was known to his friends FranFoCo wrote the script for The Pogfather one weekend while suffering from a high fever, and it shows. The freakish plot which seems like a hybrid of The Godfather and ABC’s Wide World of Sports consists of “Don” Poglione and his wife Gladys (Charlie and Maria Callas) trying to organize a legitimate Pog championship while battling other underworld Pog “families”. To call it stunningly bad doesn’t really do it justice and should really be seen to be believed. Coppola eventually went back and finished “Jack” which was also a failure.
The bonus disc is slim on extras containing an interview with Coppola during the filming of the movie and a pilot for a never aired children’s cartoon based on the characters from the Godfather called “Lil’ Vito’s Gang”.

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